Wondering About Wingdings: Decoding the Symbolic Language


Wingdings is a dingbat typeface that renders a variety of symbols. They were created by Microsoft in 1990 by combining various types of characters: Lucida icons, arrows, and licensed stars such as Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes.

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Nowadays, it is trivial to copy and paste an image from the Internet into a document, but this was not always the case. During the 1990s, there were few options for obtaining graphics, which were either too large for hard drives or had an unacceptable resolution. Fonts like Wingdings provided users with scalable images that did not consume an excessive amount of valuable disk space.

Wingdings was created by two designers: Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes, who are also the creators of the popular Lucida font. Wingdings’ gestures, objects, arrows, and a variety of other symbols can now be used to decorate, embellish, or supplement documents. Writing readable sentences, on the other hand, failed miserably unless you had access to a Winding’s translator.

Charles and Kris were elevated to the forefront of digital typefaces with Lucida. However, they desired special characters to accompany the letters and thus created these symbols in 1990.

The first series consisted of Lucida Icons, Lucida Arrows, and Lucida Stars, three fonts that evolved into Wingdings with the goal of bringing harmony to text in proportions similar to those offered by Lucida.

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Due to the font’s wide variety, it was acquired by Microsoft in 1990. Bill Gates’ company acquired the rights to Lucida Icons, Lucida Arrows, and Lucida Stars and combined them into a single font dubbed “Wingdings” that was included in a beta version of their operating system the following year. They were constrained by storage space in each version, but they were still willing to include as many fonts as possible on the launch floppy disk. Regardless of these constraints, a cultural phenomenon began.

Microsoft coined the term “Wingdings” as a play on an old print term, “dingbat” (a typographical symbol or ornament). According to Bigelow, this new moniker connoted wildness and excitement. Wingdings was a success from the start, in large part due to its integration into the Microsoft ecosystem.